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    Thoughts on Facebook’s ability to bring on new datacenters

    GigaOM has a very interesting article detailing how Facebook spun up a virtual data center inside of one of their production data centers in the Virginia (I assume Northern) area.  The direct link to the engineering blog can be found here.

    I found the content regarding their provisioning system named Kobold the most interesting.  Their ability to provision (tens of) thousands of servers in a 30 day window is impressive.  When I worked in RSA Security‘s SaaS group, we had a few different infrastructure silos that made up our hosting solution.  We created, for the most part, a build system that allowed us to get servers available in a matter of minutes after basic infrastructure was configured (power, cabling and kickstart VLAN).  While we were able to stand up infrastructure on the quicker side of things, we may have been able to scale to a few hundred (if it ever came to that) in 30 days, but nowhere near thousands or tens of thousands.  We just weren’t able to get the full boot-strap of the app layer in play.

    The promise of cloud to allow for quick scaling is based on the premise of boot-strapping.  Each machine needs to have logic to check in and get marching orders.  Without that, you are stuck with a whole lot of machines, and a whole lot of work to do to get them in to production.

    Two other interesting sites about data center boot-strapping:

    Twitter created Murder to conduct code deployments via BitTorrent.

    SmugMug created SkyNet to scale and boot-strap their infrastructure.

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